Kolkata, May 6 (PTI) The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday blamed the Centre's 'lack of farsightedness' for the migrant labourer crisis in the country and asked why the PM CARES fund is not being used to finance their journey home.
The party also said it is condemnable that migrant labourers who have been 'starving' for over 40 days are being made to pay for their tickets, as is being alleged.
'The PM Cares Fund has now turned into the PM Does Not Care fund. Where is the money of the fund going? Why isn't it is being used to finance the return of the labourers? The Centre is not bothered about migrant labourers who are in a mess due to the sudden announcement of the lockdown,' senior TMC leader Derek O'Brien said during a virtual press conference.
It is the duty of the central government to ensure these labourers return safely to their home states, he said.
'There are allegations that the labourers, who have been literally starving for the last 42 days, had to shell out money to buy tickets for returning. This is condemnable,' the party leader in the Rajya Sabha added.
Tens of thousands of migrant labourers have been stranded away from their homes in different parts of the country due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, which came into force on March 25.
Following requests from various states to help ferry home these labourers, the Railways has run 115 special trains since May 1, taking more than 1 lakh workers to their native places.
Opposition parties have accused the government of charging money from the labourers for the train journey. However, the government has said 85 per cent of the fare is being borne by the Railways and the remaining 15 per cent is being borne by the state government on whose request a train is being run.
TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay alleged there is a dearth of managerial efficiency and planning on the part of the central government.
'It was due to the Centre's lack of farsightedness that labourers across the country are facing such a crisis,' he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been compassionate to the cause of the migrant labourers, he added.
TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar hit out at the ruling BJP over allegations that the West Bengal government is suppressing information about the coronavirus situation in the state.
She said the 'BJP's fake news factory is spreading misleading information to malign the people of Bengal'. PTI PNT RBT DIV DIV